Dubai — Since the 1960s, Dubai has been announcing the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan using cannons.
This year too, the tradition will continue and the Dubai Police’s General Department of Services and Facilities has completed preparations to announce the holy month’s arrival with a blast.
The cannons will also be used to signal the end of the fasting period at the time of Maghrib prayers.
Lieutenant Zain Salim Nasser, acting Director of Arms and Ammunition at the department, said the police use the British-made Type 25 PDR MK1L cannons that have a sound range of 170 decibels. The sound from firing the cannons used to reach most of the residential communities in the past, but due to urban development, the range has considerably decreased, he explained. These cannons are periodically maintained as the police are keen on continuing the tradition. The police have six such cannons — four core ones and two reserves, which are to be used in the event one core cannon malfunctions.
A group of 20 people have been assigned to ensure that the cannons are shuttled to the chosen places — Eid Musalla in Deira, the Burj Khalifa, Eid Musalla in Karama and Jumeirah Beach Residence. Two shots are fired to signal the beginning of the holy month and to announce Eid, while one is fired to mark the end of the fasting period.
Dubai resident Hoyam Kamal, who is from Egypt, said the practice actually started in Egypt, which spread to other Arab countries. “Many people in the villages and remote areas are completely dependant on these cannons to know the end of the fasting period.
“This is my fourth Ramadan in the UAE and I look forward to seeing the tradition every year,” he said. Another resident Ahmed, who hails from Jordan, said he takes his children to watch the firing of the cannons.
“I want to encourage my children to understand how the holy month used to be welcomed in the past.” Sajita from India said she loves witnessing the cannons being fired. “I still remember the first time I witnessed the practice. I reached a mosque around 6.30pm and saw a police vehicle with the cannon arrive. There were many people there and like others, I waited with a camera in hand. It is such a lovely scene,” she said.
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